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The death of the desktop: what does ‘65% of all email is opened on a mobile device’ mean for retailers?

By next year, tablets are predicted to outsell PCs for the first time: the future is mobile. Don’t believe us? Check out these statistics on mobile use and see for yourself.


Mobile is now the main platform for reading emails. No longer are mobile customers an afterthought: instead, they form your core market. But does this mean the PC is dead?

Mobile statistics research from comScore shows that mobile is becoming the leading platform for shopping. “Last summer”, says the firm, “55% of all time spent with online retail occurred on a mobile device. Phone accounts for 44% of retail internet minutes, with tablets taking 11%.”

User reluctance

However, there’s a hard core of users that avoid using their mobile device to engage with retailers. 23% of respondents to an Econsultancy research study said that they use their phone to open emails and browse offers or e-commerce sites before making their purchase once they get home.

And when smartphone shoppers do buy, they spend 18% less than tablet users and 88% less than the average.

Indeed, research firm KISSmetrics says 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, and that a one-second delay in page response can result in a 7% fall in conversions. Optimizing images, switching to a faster web host and cutting down on redirects can all help.

However, even when these issues have been overcome, many users are still reluctant to use their smartphone to actually make purchases, with Econsultancy concluding that 39% of people are concerned about security. While prominently including trust logos such as Verified by Visa can help, this won’t win over everybody. And there’s little marketers can do about other concerns, such as the slow speed of 3G. The statistics show that the PC, it seems, will always be with us.

Don’t rest on your laurels

But user reluctance about mobile shopping is diminishing — indeed, according to comScore, one-third of online visitors to the sites and apps of the top 10 online retailers say they only use mobile devices to shop there. Retailers cannot afford to ignore these customers, who will only increase in number with time. Canny marketers are focusing on them with, for example, the use of targeted coupons specifically aimed at customers on the move or in store. This is popular with 65% of UK shoppers, according to Savvy Marketing, compared with only 24% in 2012. If your customers are likely to be out and about when they read your emails, it makes sense to target their content accordingly.

The PC is by no means dead when it comes to email marketing and a certain number of people will always prefer it. With global PC shipments declining for the past three years, however, tablets are expected to outsell PCs by the end of the year, so it is important to research your own statistics. The role of mobile phones is also increasing. Look at site visits, the type of email clients that are opened and keep an eye on how this changes across upcoming years. It’s important that you know your own audience.

Takeaways: Four ways to improve your email design for converting mobile shoppers

Offer coupons: It’s simple, but it works — especially when the coupons are targeted by the shopper’s location.

Keep it simple: Mobile users are far less likely to read a long email through to the end.

Catch the customer’s eye: Images, games and competitions will capture attention where a block of text may not.

Give them a second chance: Many mobile users delay making a purchase until they’re back at home. A reminder email can help.

Make sure you’re targeting the right customers in the right way. Download our article Miss Congeniality: How to Give Your Email Marketing Campaigns a Winning Personality